April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Two years ago, I did a couple of posts about Parkinson’s disease and why it meant so much to me to spread that awareness of this disease. Unfortunately, my stepfather was diagnosed with this disease and has been struggling for several years now. I am writing this to provide information about what this disease is, symptoms a person may experience, treatments available, the five stages to Parkinson, risk factors involved, and the importance of exercise to someone that deals with this disease. I also do dedicate this to my stepfather, Bob Rushing, who I think is a remarkable man and thankful for him to be in my life.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly. Men are 1.5 times more than women to develop this disease. It begins with brain cells that are known as neurons, which control movement. As the neurons die or become impaired, the production of dopamine lessens, which causes movement issues. By mid-2020, approximately one million people in the United States will be living with Parkinson’s disease, which is more than the combination of people diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. To really get the point across, there are about 10 million people worldwide living with this disease. Roughly, 60,000 American’s are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year. I guess one reason why I understand my stepfather is because as you already know I live with Multiple Sclerosis.
The signs and symptoms often start mild and once noticeable begin on one side of the body. The four main motor skills that can be affected are:
- Resting tremors are involuntary shaking affecting a limb while at rest. This typically occurs in hand or finger at first.
- Slowness of movement, referred to as bradykinesia. This is followed by shuffling gait, reduced facial expressions, and minor fine-motor issues.
- Stiffness- abnormally tight or achy muscles that occur in any part of the body and can limit the range of motion.
- Postural instability- not being stable on feet, which can cause problems with balance, walking, and turning around. Falls can be a valid concern.
There are a few other early symptoms that could be noticed, which include:
- Cramped handwriting
- Tremors in hands and feet, especially in one finger
- Uncontrollable moving during sleep
- Vocal changes, which could mean a lower soft voice or hoarse sounding
The five stages with Parkinson’s disease are as followed-
- Symptoms are mild and often missed
- Family and friend may notice differences in posture, walking, and facial expressions
- Tremors and difficulties with movements are typically on one side of the body
- Medication could be helpful to minimize and reduce symptoms
Stage 2- Considered a moderate form
- Symptoms such as stiffness, tremors, and trembling are more recognizable
- Muscle stiffness can cause completing tasks to take longer
- Challenges with walking can start to occur, but balance isn’t affected
- Symptoms will be on both sides of the body
- Progression from stage 1 to stage 2 could take months to years
Stage 3- Middle stage
- There is a major turning point in the progression
- Symptoms are typically the same as in Stage 2, but loss of balance is more likely and there is a decrease in reflexes
- Movements become slower
- An increase concerns of falling occurs
- Able to complete tasks, but daily tasks can be significantly affected
- Medications and Occupational Therapy can help decrease symptoms
- This stage, independence is what separates Stage 3 from Stage 4
- An individual has the capability to stand without assistance
- A walker or another assistive device might be necessary for some movement
- A person with Parkinson’s disease is not able to live alone due to decreases in movement and reaction time
Stage 5- Most advanced stage-
- A wheelchair becomes required in this stage
- Around the clock assistance will be required
- The stiffness in the legs can cause the legs to freeze when standing, which can potentially cause standing and walking impossible
- Typically, unable to stand on their own without falling
- Nearly, 30% of people will experience confusion, hallucinations, and delusions, which can occur during stage 4 and stage 5
- Up to 75% of people with Parkinson’s disease will develop dementia
With everything we have already gone through regarding this disease, there is still much more to explain. I want to share with you the complications that are in addition to the typical problems a person with this disease may experience. The following are 10 complications a person with Parkinson’s could experience, but each of these could potentially be treated:
- In the later stages, cognitive problems might become an issue and could potentially lead to dementia
- Behavioral changes such as depression can be experienced in the early stages and can be treated. Other emotional changes such as fear, anxiety, and loss of motivation can also occur
- Swallowing issues can develop due to an accumulation of saliva as the disease progresses
- In the later stages, chewing and eating can become a problem with the possibility of choking or poor nutrition
- Sleeping troubles can occur, which could include waking frequently during the night, waking up early, or falling asleep during the day
- Bladder and constipation are common difficulties. An inability to control urine or having a difficult time urinating can create frustrations. Due to a slower digestive tract, a person can become constipated, which only contributes to the aggravation
- A changes or drop in blood pressure can cause dizziness and lightheadedness
- May experience issues with being able to smell which makes it challenging to identify odors or the differences between the odors in the air
- The probability of fatigue and loss of energy, especially later in the day is very likely to happen
- Some people with Parkinson’s disease may experience pain, either in specific areas or throughout the entire body
Unfortunately, in 2020 there still isn’t a cure for this disease. Even if only temporary, there are options that could ease or even eliminate symptoms. Drugs that increase dopamine levels in the brain are beneficial. The main medication used for Parkinson is Levodopa, which makes dopamine restore the brain’s diminished supply.
Carbidopa, is commonly taken in addition to Levodopa to help prevent and reduce certain side effects, which include nausea, vomiting, lower blood pressure, and restlessness.
MAO-6 (Monoamine Oxidase Type B) is an enzyme produced in our body that breaks down numerous chemicals, including dopamine. It also offers benefits for motor symptoms of Parkinson and is useful in early treatments.
COMT inhibitor is a class of Parkinson medications that do not have a direct effect on the symptoms but is utilized to prolong the effects of Levodopa by blocking its metabolism.
Amantadine can be used to prevent and treat the flu. It also is used to treat Parkinson’s symptoms, such as stiffness and shakiness.
is a group of substances that block the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) at synapses in the central and peripheral nervous systems.
There are numerous reasons why exercise is significantly crucial for those living with Parkinson’s disease. Researchers discovered that a person with Parkinson, who exercises at least 2 ½ hours weekly, will experience a slower decline. Exercise also assists with maintaining balance, mobility, and being able to continue doing daily routines.
Of course, exercises between each person with Parkinson will differ, but could include things such as intensive sports training, treadmill training without body weight support, resistance training, aerobics, alternative exercises with things like yoga, leg extensions while sitting down, short walks with a friend, loved one, or even your precious dog, cycling indoors or outdoors, and anything else that can be done safely.
An individual with Parkinson’s disease can benefit in two different ways by exercising Symptom Management and slow disease progression.
- Symptom Management-
- Reduces stiffness and improves mobility, posture, balance, and gait
- Increases oxygen delivery and maintains neurotransmitters keeping the heart,
- lungs, and nervous system healthy
- Reduces symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety
- Slows disease progression-
- Improving mobility can decrease fall risks
- Exercises such as running or riding a bike can produce changes in the brain that is caused by aging or Parkinson’s disease
Thank y’all for visiting my site today! I hope the information I have provided about Parkinson’s disease was beneficial and gave you a better understanding of this disease. It is possible the reason I can understand my stepfather is because of the challenges I face living with Multiple Sclerosis. I do realize that Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease are different, but the two also have things in common. I can understand his frustrations and the anger that comes with there not being a cure yet.
I hope you are enjoying your weekend, you are staying safe, and you are feeling well! During this tragic time people globally are experiencing, we have to try to remain positive because nothing good will ever come from holding onto negative feelings. Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love , comfort, and many positive vibes!